If you feel tenderness or pain on the inside of the elbow or forearm area, you might be suffering from Golfer’s Elbow. This type of tendonitis is commonly found in the inner part of your elbow, causing trouble around the area, probably extending it onto your hand. Golfer’s Elbow is a common issue among manual laborers, gym-goers, tennis players and golf players as well. Even though it might seem like a debilitating injury, it’s completely treatable and curable. But beware: if you find out you suffer from Golfer’s Elbow, you need to treat it properly and sooner rather than later. Otherwise, you might develop a chronic problem.
Do not confuse Golfer’s Elbow with Tennis Elbow, which is a similar albeit different problem.
What Causes Pain On The Inside of The Elbow (i.e.: Golfer’s Elbow)?
“Golfer’s Elbow” is a common name used for medial epicondylitis. Even though its medical term may sound serious, it is simply tendon inflammation – which isn’t as dangerous as it is painful. This elbow pain is often caused by overuse of the elbow’s tendons: when you overwork your tendons, you may cause damage and ruptures in them which manifest themselves via inflammation and pain in the troubled area. The muscles and tendons related to Golfer’s Elbow are the ones you use to grab, flex and extend your forearm. Gripping clubs or bats (i.e. golf clubs and baseball bats) employ the muscles and tendons that may develop Golfer’s Elbow . Other sports, like judo or weightlifting, are also associated with actions that lead to said injury. People working in certain jobs – like construction and cooking – have a high chance to develop a Golfer’s Elbow .
How Do You Diagnose Pain On The Inside Of The Elbow?
If you are suffering from Golfer’s Elbow, you will probably experience one (or a number) of symptoms related to gripping strength and tendon pain, which could be the following:
- Tenderness and pain – Pain throughout the inner side of your elbow, sometimes extending throughout your forearm. The pain may worsen with certain movements (e.g.: when moving your elbow, when shaking hands with someone, etc.)
- Weakness – Lack of strength in your hand and wrist (e.g. trouble grabbing light items.)
- Numbing – If you feel numbing (or a tingling sensation) throughout your arm or around your fingertips, at random time.
- Stiffness – Having trouble moving your elbow and inability to use your elbow’s full range of motion.
It is fairly easy to assess by yourself whether you have Golfer’s Elbow or not, but if you aren’t sure, refer to this video on how to perform the test. If you feel you suffer from any of these issues in the inner side of your elbow, then there is a high likelihood that you have it. If you developed any of these issues, see a doctor to make sure you have the right diagnosis. A medical expert will be able to properly diagnose your problem. To do so he will look for visual signs of injury and manually check your tendons, applying force to the joints. He’ll also double-check with an MRI or ultrasound study. (Note: If other symptoms show up, for example, you believe your elbow might be broken or you have developed a fever after injuring yourself or anything critical, see a doctor immediately.)
How Can You Treat Golfer’s Elbow?
- Use the RICE method – RICE stands for “Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation”. Basically, you need to take it easy for a while, i.e. stop lifting heavy (or whatever it is that caused your injury); ice your tender area for 15-20 minutes 4 times per day; compress the injured area using a compression band or a brace; keep the arm elevated to promote blood flow to your elbow. The RICE method is incredibly useful for most common injuries – as long as they do not need medical care. You need to use the RICE method as soon as you know you have hurt yourself. The first 48 hours are the most important for recovery.
- Ultrasound therapy – Technology can be a great ally when you are injured. Ultrasound therapy can help you alleviate your pain and improve your tendons’ health. When you undergo ultrasound therapy, the machine will stimulate a healing response in the damaged tissue. This kind of therapy has over 75% success rate. Keep in mind you should use this as complementary and not as your recovery’s main source. You can combine it with manual therapy.
- Manual therapy – Manual therapy is a must for this kind of injury. When you develop Golfer’s Elbow, you will probably end up with poor blood circulation and scar tissue in your forearm. You should contact a licensed massage therapist or a physiotherapist to help you with your injury. If you cannot find one, you can do it yourself. Apply lotion throughout the tender area, start doing light massages to warm up your elbow and increase the pressure over time. It should hurt a little bit (because you are breaking down scar tissue) but it shouldn’t be too painful.
- Do rehab exercises at the gym or your home – If you want to take a more active route towards healing yourself, you can start getting work done to help your muscles and tendons get better. Stretching is your best friend in this scenario, especially wrist and forearm stretches. The most common one is simple: keep your arm straight and pull your hand back towards your body, hold for 30 seconds and release; do this 10 times thrice throughout the day. When you feel ready, you can also add eccentric wrist extensions using light dumbbells, 3 sets of 10 reps, two to three times per day.
- Wait it out – Sometimes the best thing you can do is take a break. Golfer’s Elbow can become a chronic problem if you don’t stop training or working before you are fully healed. Take a week off or more if you feel you need to do so. Even if you feel you are ready to go back, take a little bit more time and do prehab exercises to avoid further issues down the road.
If you have experience with Golfer’s Elbow, we’d love to hear about it. Especially if there was a treatment that we didn’t cover, which worked for you. Just leave a comment below!
Disclaimer – Please remember that we’re not medical health care providers here at SimplyJnJ. We simply post information (such as “Pain On The Inside of The Elbow?” above because we believe it will give people a better understanding on their pain problems. Please, always consult a doctor and get properly diagnosed if you suspect something is wrong.